• Popular ride-sharing app Uber is joining forces with China's Baidu to acquire Nokia's powerful maps unit.

Popular ride-sharing app Uber is joining forces with China's Baidu to acquire Nokia's powerful maps unit. (Photo : REUTERS)

Ride-sharing company Uber Technologies, Inc. is teaming up with Chinese Web services firm Baidu Technologies, Inc. and Apax Partners to pursue Nokia’s maps business, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg in a report published Monday, as the bidding war for the unit intensifies.

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The three companies will be joining Tencent Holdings, NavInfo, and Swedish buyout firm in bidding for the Finnish telecom company's HERE business unit, which may fetch as much as $4 billion, three of the sources said, asking not to be identified due to negotiations being private.

Microsoft has also offered to buy a minority stake, while U.S. private equity firms Hellman & Friedman, Silver Lake Management and Thoma Bravo, are also in the running, they added.

According to one of the sources, Baidu, China's biggest search engine, is partnering with San Francisco-based Uber to avoid regulatory scrutiny. The two companies entered a partnership earlier in Dec. 2014, in which Baidu will connect users of its map and search services to Uber's taxi app.

Representatives for Audi, Apax, Baidu, Daimler, EQT, HERE, Hellman & Friedman, Microsoft, Nokia, Tencent, Silver Lake, Thoma Bravo and Uber declined to comment on the report, while calls to BMW representatives were not returned.

Nokia's U.S.-traded shares rose less than 1 percent to $6.96 at the close of the New York Stock Exchange, while Baidu's U.S.-listed shares dropped to less than 1 percent to close at $191.32, Bloomberg said in its report.

Known as Navteq before its acquisition by Nokia in 2007, HERE has become one of the auto industry's leading suppliers in the past two decades. It has provided data to Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo!, and car-navigation systems for companies including Toyota and Honda.

"No one has moved to serve the need for advanced maps as aggressively as HERE, which has deployed 200 vehicles to build 3-D street maps in 30 countries on six continents," said Gabe Nelson in his column in Automotive News. "That's a lot of capability in the hands of a single supplier. And whoever wins control of HERE would be in a much stronger position to chart the course of the automobile."

Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, is seeking to sell its mapping unit as it shifts its focus on mobile network equipment and services in order to stay competitive against Huawei Technologies Co. In April, Nokia agreed to acquire Alcatel-Lucent SA for 15.6 billion euros to create the world's largest supplier of equipment for mobile phone networks.